COVID-19 Outreach Teams
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone around the world and has presented its own unique challenges, especially for those in developing countries. This pandemic has exposed cracks in the healthcare of the developed first world, which so far has not succeeded in containing COVID-19. And if this is the state of the developed world, one can only speculate on the extent of the damage that this pandemic will inflict on developing countries, which in most cases are already crippled by a weak healthcare system.
In the face of this global pandemic, now more than ever before, we need empathy and compassion. This is why at Humanity Auxilium, we’ve launched Outreach Teams in partnership with Bangladesh Health Sector and the Turkish Red Crescent in the Rohingya Refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.
As per United Nations, Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Most Rohingya fear stigmatization and fear of persecution of being positive with COVID-19 due to the racial discrimination and violence that they had suffered in Myanmar for generations. Hence, the Rohingya community is reluctant to come forth when ill and seek medical attention.
The current count is around 1.2 million Rohingya living in the world’s largest refugee camp in Kutupalong (Bangladesh).
Our teams consist of community health workers, nurses and physicians who assess the Rohingya population in their own shelter and provide sanitation kits to those who are suspected of having COVID-19. The patient will self isolate with their entire family in the shelter and will be monitored for worsening symptoms daily. Food and clean water will be delivered to decrease the spread of COVID-19.
This project is novel and unique. Our Outreach Teams, who have been trained, per WHO guidelines, are playing a pivotal role. They are not only saving lives by identifying possible positive patients, but also are educating the Rohingya community in their own language about this deadly virus to mitigate its spread.
Please join us in the fight against COVID-19.
At the beginning of 2020, Humanity Auxilium planned a medical mission to Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, but those plans were immediately put on hold with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world. Although we couldn’t travel to the camps, we knew that we had to step up somehow and support refugees who were vulnerable and at-risk of being completely devastated by the virus — due to a lack of information, medical infrastructure, sanitation supplies, clean drinking water, and the fact that social distancing is nearly impossible because of the population density within the camps.
At first, Humanity Auxilium explored the idea of building an isolation centre. But it quickly became clear that this project wouldn’t be very effective. The Rohingya, one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, feared further oppression if diagnosed as infected by COVID-19. As a result, few came forward for testing when they had symptoms. Humanity Auxilium worked closely with Bora Tümer, head of the Turkish Red Crescent delegation in Bangladesh, one of the few NGOs still on the ground in Rohingya camps providing humanitarian aid to the refugees. Tümer realized reluctant refugees would have to be visited in the privacy of their shelters and provided with support, such as medical supplies and education about the virus, informing them of the need to isolate if they had COVID-19 symptoms.
That’s when we realized that the best way to support refugees would be through a door-to-door outreach project; with the goal of informing refugees to help mitigate the spread and give them the proper tools and assessments to keep them safe. This project would also aim to ease tensions between the refugees and medical workers and rebuild trust. Throughout the year, it was proven that the Outreach Teams were successful in reaching out to reluctant refugees.
As of April 30, 2021, our Outreach Teams have visited and screened nearly 60,000 households in the camps. They’ve also been able to provide medical services to over 26,432 Rohingya who were in need of medical attention; many of whom were suspected of having COVID-19. Outreach Teams were also able to convince around 9,289 Rohingya to visit health facilities for further assessments and treatment. Our teams were able to follow up with around 9,515 patients in their homes and eventually have been able to discharge roughly 7,498 of those who seem to have recovered — as it’s become visible that their health has been improved.
In total, we’ve been able to help over 26,432 Rohingya refugees during this difficult time in their lives. Many of these refugees would not have sought medical attention if our teams didn’t reach out to them. In addition, our teams have also hosted over 3,328 crucial information sessions to roughly 22,043 refugees — an important piece of helping refugees understand the virus and how it spreads.